Making America Work for Working People

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This Labor Day, remember the millions of Americans who don’t know the next time they’ll get called in to their jobs.

By Sarita Gupta / OtherWords

For millions of working parents like me, the juggling act between our homes and offices gets even more frantic as our kids head back to school.

My daughter just started kindergarten. Some days, I’m proud of how my husband and I manage the demands of our jobs while also taking care of her and my parents. Other days, life happens — the train’s late, a deadline surfaces, a meeting gets rescheduled ­— and it all falls apart.

This Labor Day, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to spend time with my family and take a break from the demands of this time of year. But I’ll also be thinking about the working people across the country who don’t know the next time they’ll actually be working.   [Read more…]

Cal Pensions Cutting Coal Stock Called an “Emotional” Response to Climate Change

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By Doug Porter

You would think that losing $5 billion in pension fund investments in fossil fuel companies in 2014 would cause the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to change course.

But Republican reaction to passage of SB 185, also called “Investing with Values and Responsibility,” beginning an eighteen month process to disinvest in any holdings of thermal coal is quite the opposite.

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City decried the measure, saying, “We need to make (investment) decisions based on good, sound financial decisions, not based on emotions.”

So there you have it. Global climate change is simply an emotional issue.   [Read more…]

Loss of Community Is Greatest Threat From Airbnb and Short-Term Vacation Rentals

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Short-term vacation rentals are on the minds of a lot of people these days, especially with those who live at the coast in San Diego.

The issue bubbles up at community meetings. An OB resident brought it up at a recent Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting. And it was the subject of a panel discussion organized recently by the Point Loma Democratic Club. Also, back in February of this year, residents of Pacific Beach made their complaints about them heard publicly.

Then it came up at the most recent OB Town Council meeting last week, during the non-agenda comment period, where folks on both sides on the issue contended for audience sympathy. And it’s certainly a hot topic among callers to District 2 Councilwoman Zapf’s office.
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Iconic Vision or Elitist Tunnel Vision? The Future of Downtown’s East Village Green

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By Jeeni Criscenzo

Who could possibly be against a park? A bit of open space to take a stroll; rest on a bench and breathe in the fresh air; enjoy the peace and quiet… Maybe that’s what most of us think of when we think of a park, but that’s not what developers see. Last night, at the third “workshop” for the East Village Green, we were treated to what one lady exclaimed as an iconic vision and what I thought was a perfect example of elitist tunnel vision.

The East Village Green would be a 4.1 acre wonderland between 13th St and 15th St. and F and G Street in East Village. It has been promised to the people of the neighborhood for almost 10 years–about the same time a poor family will have to wait to get Section 8 housing.   [Read more…]

Choosing Real Citizen-Led Advocacy to Preserve Carlsbad’s Open Space

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By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

After vowing never again to sign a petition, my wife and I are headed to Alga Norte Park to sign one. It’s our attempt to make up for foolishly falling for the pitch to support an initiative to “save the strawberry fields.” The man with the clipboard at my door claimed he was a member of a group of concerned citizens, rallying to save them.

A day later I learned how I had been sweet-talked into abandoning my skepticism of California’s bogus initiative campaigns. He was far from the public-spirited do-gooder he represented himself to be. The guy walking away with my signature was paid for its delivery to the developer who was rallying to bring a strip mall to the strawberry fields.   [Read more…]

Airbnb Not Typically Allowed in Apartments

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By John P. Anderson

As the Airbnb debate continues in San Diego, I found it interesting to receive a warning letter from my previous apartment manager, Torrey Pines Property Management this week informing tenants that using sites like Airbnb is not allowed in the buildings they manage.

I contacted Torrey Pines and was informed that this is a proactive measure to avoid issues in future, not in response to issues that have occurred. Good for them for taking a proactive, informative approach to the issue.   [Read more…]

Mayor Faulconer’s Convention Center Expansion: It’s Huuuge

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By Doug Porter

Oh, those boys and their big shiny toys. Having failed in past years to gain approval for a waterfront expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, the City is about to throw its weight behind a $90,000 study promising “huuuge” (ala Trump) returns.

The Union-Tribune says Mayor Faulconer finds the report so persuasive that he’s prepared to back a ballot measure increasing hotel taxes for 2016. Since those taxes are dedicated revenues, two thirds voter approval will be required.

Today we’ll take a look at the spotty record of the outfit hired to do this report, along with various options along the way to getting a super-majority to go the polls and vote for this expansion.   [Read more…]

Disposable People: Obama, the TPP, and the Betrayal of Human Rights

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By Jim Miller

During the lead-up to the vote on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) that the President narrowly won, Obama and his surrogates consistently suggested that those in labor and other allied groups opposing the deal were “fighting the last war” and were against “the most progressive trade agreement the world has ever seen.” Indeed, he even went so far as to accuse critics like Senator Elizabeth Warren of “making stuff up”.

As we know, Obama defeated labor and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and, in concert with Republicans and just enough New Democrats like San Diego’s own Scott Peters and Susan Davis, he succeeded in forwarding the multinational corporate agenda.

Since that time the gaze of the national media has turned elsewhere and, as negotiations have encountered difficulties, the administration has sunk to new lows in its zeal to finish the deal on the TPP.   [Read more…]

Battle Lines Form in California Over Ambitious Climate Change Bills

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Big Oil Goes Into Big Lie Mode With Campaign

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

California lawmakers are preparing to face off with the state’s powerful fossil fuel industry in a battle over two potentially groundbreaking climate change bills.

The more contentious legislation in question, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (SB350), would increase California’s share of electricity from renewable energy sources to 50 percent and reduce the state’s use of oil in half by 2030—the equivalent of removing 36 million cars and trucks from the roads over the next 15 years—through new technology and more efficient planning.

The second piece of legislation, the California Global Warming Solutions Act (SB32), would raise mandates for oil refineries and power companies, among other big polluters, to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.   [Read more…]

NLRB Ruling Could Be a Game Changer for Unions

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By Doug Porter

A Reagan-era standard allowing corporations to maintain an arms-length relationship with their workforces fell by the wayside yesterday as the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the Teamsters in a dispute with California recycler Browning-Ferris Industries.

The bottom line here is that big companies may be held responsible for what goes on in the workplace. Organized labor is pleased with the decision. Wall Street isn’t. The actual ruling concerned the use of temporary employees. What people are reacting to are its game changing implications.

There are lots of poorly informed (meaning full of crap) analyses being passed off in various media accounts.  To use a baseball analogy, just because a team acquires a high performance player doesn’t mean they’ll have a winning season. Just ask the San Diego Padres.   [Read more…]

Welcome to TrumpLand: A Local Example of Bigotry USA! USA! Style

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By Doug Porter

I’ve been trying not to say too much about The Donald. He’s playing the media like a great violinist plays a Stradivarius. He says jump and the stenographers posing as journalists say “how high?”

I can no longer remain silent in the face of the hate-mongering coming from this public figure aimed at Latinos. He’s giving ammunition to assholes, and there are real consequences, even on the streets of San Diego.

When a well-known and respected public advocate can’t take his child to a park without being race baited, it’s time to stand up and say No More. And, yes, it is precisely the rhetoric favored by Donald Trump that’s encouraging an upswing in bigotry.   [Read more…]

Women’s Equality Day: Celebrating the Success of Militant Protest

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The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics.–Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst

By Doug Porter

Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) marks anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

There are observances this week in San Diego, including a re-enactment of an early-century Suffrage march in Balboa Park.

Organizations including the League of Women Voters, the United Nations Women’s Equity Council, the Older Women’s League and others, will join members and supporters of the Women’s Museum at 5pm for a Rally on Thursday, (Aug 27th) at the Kate Sessions Statue, at the 6th Avenue end of the Cabrillo Bridge, followed by a parade across the bridge info the Organ Pavilion where the last free concert of the summer will be held at 6:30pm.

While this commemoration will be celebratory in nature, it’s important to remember, as Frederick Douglass once said, “Power never concedes nothing without a demand.” In many sanitized versions of US history, the struggle leading up to that victory is depicted as controversial only because women left their roles as wives and house-makers to protest. The reality of what transpired is considerably different.   [Read more…]

Nail Salon Workplaces Need A Touch Up

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By Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

Today I am convening an informational hearing in the Capitol as Chair of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, bringing together stakeholders to discuss the challenges faced in the industry and to hear personal testimony from nail salon workers. I’m encouraged to be joined by the Chairs of four other Assembly Committees and other legislators to begin the collaborative process we need to achieve the change these workers need.

Recent in-depth coverage in the New York Times revealed shocking, systematic abuse going on right under the noses of thousands of nail salon customers every day. The reports found employees living in squalor and isolation, underpaid or completely unpaid, and ravaged by health problems possibly connected to chemicals they handle on the job. It echoed and expanded upon reporting done recently in California, drawing new attention to deeply troubling working conditions in the nail salon industry across the country.

Today’s hearing is an important start to ensure that the employees of these salons are effectively covered by California’s workplace safety and wage and hour laws. These laws should guarantee all workers fair treatment and safe working conditions, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they work.   [Read more…]

Privatizing Pensions and Idolizing Profit in the 21st Century

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By Doug Porter

Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik has been on a tear recently, rolling out essays challenging the validity of claims made by those who claim privatizing retirement is the way of the future.

At the core of these conservative/libertarian arguments against public support for defined pensions is a fundamental belief in the supremacy of the “market” as a force in society. 

The problem with this viewpoint comes when actual results for those programs participants are measured. The market has no obligation other than profit, which is only guaranteed for those managing the transactions.   [Read more…]

It’s Strike Three for San Diego Unified’s School Board President, But She’s Not Out

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By Doug Porter

San Diego Unified President Marne Foster was in the news over the past few days, and not in a positive light.

The State Attorney General’s office, according to a story in the Union-Tribune, is asking pointed questions about a fundraiser held last month to help pay off debt and college costs for her sons.

On August 19th, the San Diego Unified School District issued a response to a grand jury report on ethics questions concerning Foster, essentially telling the panel to “shove it.”

Mario Koran at Voice of San Diego posted a piece today on Foster, filling in the blanks on long standing allegations about her role in the firing of a highly ranked school principal who refused to go along with special privileges for the School Board Trustee’s son.   [Read more…]

San Diego Takes the Lead in Greenpeace Strike

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By Andrew J. Mackay and Bryan Kim

On August 5, 16 of 19 canvassers for Greenpeace in San Diego walked off the job. They were followed by a majority of the Sacramento office. 22 total employees of the Frontline program, Greenpeace’s in-house fundraising program, have had enough of labor policies that give them no job security.

The strike, led by two veteran canvassers in Socialist Alternative San Diego, comes against an organization that claims to be progressive. However, Greenpeace uses a quota system where even veteran fundraisers can be fired for missing quota two or three weeks consecutively. Senior workers bring in six or seven times their salary in recurring donations, yet are routinely fired. Morale is understandably very low. But choosing to resist, they have mobilized in defense of their jobs and dignity. Non-profits beware: the persuasive skills developed by your employees can be used against you. Instead of selling Greenpeace, organizers now sell the strike against it.   [Read more…]

Preserve Carlsbad Open Space the Right Way: Let Us Vote

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By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

When it comes to air pollution, the Carlsbad City Council’s report on the Agua Hedionda Initiative, the “9212 Report,” reads a little like “close enough for guv’ment work.” When it comes to traffic congestion, it’s a developer’s faith-based initiative. But when it comes to the city’s projected $2.6 million a year tax revenue windfall it’s, “Whoopee, we’re gonna be rich!”

City staff took 2 ½ months to write the August 7 report. The Council and general public will have had 17 days to read and think about what’s in its 254 pages, and the 542 additional pages of supporting documents, before next Tuesday, August 25, when the Council will decide whether to approve the plan with no further review, put it on the ballot for voters to decide, or take more time to think it over.   [Read more…]

KPBS Bars Affordable Housing Advocate from Midday Edition Panel

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By Doug Porter
UPDATED 8/26 With response from KPBS…

The spat between KPBS/inewsource and attorney Cory Briggs reached a new low this week when an invitation to retired civil rights leader and affordable housing advocate Rev. Richard Lawrence to participate on the Midday Edition program was abruptly withdrawn.

Lawrence, whose list of honors includes the San Diego Housing Federation’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” and  a San Diego City Council declaration making November 10, 2013 “Richard Lawrence Day,” was supposed to be participating in an August 17th panel on San Diego’s declaration of an affordable housing state of emergency.

The reasoning behind his “dis-invitation” was that Lawrence sits on the board of San Diegans for Open Government and vigorously defended attorney Cory Briggs in the wake of allegations of misconduct made by KPBS/inewsource.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: It’s Time for the Downtown Crowd to Pay Its Own Way

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Editors Note: Attorney Cory Briggs responded to a commenter on Thursday’s Starting Line item regarding a proposed ballot measure on hotel taxes and a shared a bit of history about the tourism industry’s relationship with the City of San Diego. We’ve taken the liberty of posting it as a “Readers Write” essay.

…I offer this for the sake of precision. The scam is very clever, and I don’t want people to mistake one bad actor for another (which is very easy to do in this town because there are so many). To win at the ballot box, we need the public to understand exactly what’s going on. (I’ll jump on my soapbox at the end.)

The SDTA is not taxing anyone. The City is taxing tourists 10.5% as TOT and then another 2% for the “Tourism Marketing District Assessment” but it’s really a tax. The hoteliers claim to have imposed the TMD tax on themselves as a “self-assessment,” which is how they rationalized not putting the 2% hike to the voters, but then wrote the rules in a way that allows them to put the 2% TMD tax on their hotel guests’ bills right next to the TOT. The hotels collect the money from their guests and pay it over to the City, and the City then writes a check for that same 2% (after deducting a small admin fee) to the San Diego Tourism Marketing District Corporation.

The SDTMDC is run by a small handful of big hoteliers, and they get to decide how the money is spent. At this point, the public has no ability to influence the rate of the TMD tax or how it is spent — except at the ballot box if we get enough signatures on this initiative.   [Read more…]

The Hillary Question: Two Telling Tales

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By Doug Porter

Six months ago, most Democrats believed the upcoming presidential primary season would be little more than a warm-up for the coronation of Hillary Clinton as the party’s choice to face off against the GOP’s nominee.

A feisty Vermonter with wiry hair has upset the Democratic applecart. Today’s column will start off with two tales of Hillary, told with the hope of providing insight into the nature of her as a candidate. (Those hoping for a bashing session will have to wait for another day.)

I, for one, thought the early campaign months would be focused on the circular firing squad that has come to represent the Republican contest for the nomination. Fortunately, my stockpile of popcorn won’t go to waste.   [Read more…]

‘Out of Step’: Investigation Uncovers Striking Paid Leave Divide in US

In the United States, only about 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any form of paid family leave. (Photo: Corrinne Yu/cc/flickr)

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

With the idea of paid maternity leave gaining traction as a means of recruiting workplace “talent” or used as a talking point on the campaign trail, an In These Times investigation published on Tuesday reveals the sad reality for millions of U.S. families.

In the United States, only about 13 percent of U.S. workers have access to any form of paid family leave, which includes parental leave and other time off to care for a family member, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   [Read more…]

Stolen Pay, Stolen Lives: It’s Time to Beef Up Enforcement for Wage Theft in California

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By Doug Porter

On the eve of an assembly committee hearing, the California Fair Paycheck Coalition and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) have released a new video showing the link between human trafficking and wage theft.

The state Senate has already passed SB 588, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, enhancing the ability of the state labor commissioner to fight wage theft and help workers collect stolen pay.

Currently only 17% of workers receiving judgements for stolen wages are able to collect payment. Research indicates low-wage workers lose, on average, 12.5% of their annual income to wage theft.   [Read more…]

The Union Label: Making a Comeback, Despite Challenges

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By Doug Porter

A Gallup poll released this week says organized labor is making a comeback in the public consciousness. Support for labor unions has jumped five percentage points over the past year, with nearly six in 10 people approving of unions, up from 48% in 2009.

This increase in support comes despite an unrelenting effort by right-wing groups to blame unions for everything from unemployment to inciting class war. There are twin editorials/columns in Tuesday’s Union-Tribune misrepresenting the truth, casting labor as the evil opponent of good government and economic prosperity.

Today’s column will examine the phenomena driving the resurgence of the contemporary labor movement and the challenges it faces, along with some information on organizing efforts.   [Read more…]

Area Legislators Return to Sacramento for a Final Push

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By Doug Porter

If you want to understand the issues at play in California politics, keep an eye on the last 20 working days of this year’s legislative session in Sacramento.

Bills will be debated, lobbied and amended. Some will face vetoes from the Governor.

San Diego’s delegation to the statehouse has done an impressive job in this session with several measures remaining to be voted on. Today we’ll take a look at some of the legislation, with an emphasis on our local legislators, up for consideration in the coming days.   [Read more…]